The Dodgers season couldn’t resume any faster as they’ll start a six-game road-trip beginning with the Washington Nationals over the weekend.
Coming into the season, the Dodgers and Nationals were two teams with high expectations and both didn’t live up to the pre-season hype.
While the Dodgers have battled injuries, the Nationals too have seen outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth sidelined for a significant amount of time, but both will be in the lineup for the three games.
Here are three keys to the series against the Nationals:
1. Starting Pitching
The Dodgers solidified their starting staff with the addition of Ricky Nolasco and with the recent performance of Zack Greinke, the rotation is looking really good.
Those two and Clayton Kershaw will start games in the series as the Dodgers will get the top-3 in the Nationals rotation after the break.
All three starters have faced the Nationals this season with Grienke and Kershaw picking up wins in their stars while Nolasco is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA against them due to his time with the Marlins.
If the rotation can do their job and continue to hold opponents to two and three runs per game, the Dodgers offense should get the rest of the job done.
2. Andre Ethier
Ethier has had an up-and-down season to this point and with the injuries to Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, he should have the piece of mind that he’ll be in LA all season.
Regardless, while he’s seen his batting average rise, Ethier hasn’t hit a home run since June 11 and he’ll need to produce, especially with Kemp still recovering from multiple injuries.
In the first series with the Nats, Ethier had four hits in nine at-bats and needs to start producing like he’s done in his Dodgers career.
The weakest unit of the Dodgers team has looked relatively good in the past couple of weeks with the insertion of Kenley Jansen into the closer’s role. Also, the number change back to 54 has helped Ronald Belisario as he hasn’t allowed a run since June 12 and has done much better when he inherits runners as well.
Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell will be counted on late in innings to face Bryce Harper, Adam LaRoche and even Denard Span as the Nationals do have a very potent offense.
It’s hard to ever call a sweep, but with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke throwing the way they are, I see the Dodgers winning two of three to start the second half.